Let's Nuke Mars! Says Elon Musk

PatrickJS

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Let's Nuke Mars! Says Elon Musk



SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last month that the perfect way to heat Mars for human habitation is by dropping nucelear bombs on it; recently, he extrapolated on that plan.

The best villains, whether in literature, films, comics, or video games, are the ones with the good ideas. The evil geniuses or warlords who are striving to bring peace to the world; or whose grand schemes do a lot of good, even if the methods themselves are morally dubious.

Enter Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/elon%20musk?os=elon+musk] and all-around Tony Stark kind of guy - or maybe a Lex Luthor. In an interview last month with Stephen Colbert, Musk was talking about the future of human habitation on Mars. He says one key piece of the puzzle is warming up the red planet - and how does he suggest we do that? By dropping nuclear weapons over the poles.

More recently, he explained the plan a little more at an event in New York City.

"What I was talking about [http://mashable.com/2015/10/02/elon-musk-nuke-mars-two-suns/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link#Tmm9xSxcWqqX]," said Musk, "was having a series of very large, by our standards, but very small, by calamity standards, essentially having two tiny pulsing suns over the poles. They're really above the planet. Not on the planet."

"So if you have two basically tiny suns over the pole that would warm up the planet," he went on. "Then you would gasify frozen carbon dioxide, thicken the atmosphere and warm up the water and all of that would have a greenhouse effect. Have a cascading effect to continue warming up the planet."

Eventually, the planet would continue to warm itself.


Musk has also famously said, "I would like to die on Mars - just not on impact."

Of course, what he is describing would actually work; who knows how long it would take, but if we were ever to terraform Mars, heating it up and forming an atmosphere are two important steps.

But we still don't know enough about Mars. We've only just including Matt Damon [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/142604-Paper-Officially-Confirm-Flowing-Salt-Water-on-Mars#&gid=gallery_4770&pid=1]) - probably nothing huge, very likely non-sentient microbes if anything - that would be affected by two nuclear explosions over the poles, and the subsequent heating that occurs.

I guess the question we need to ask ourselves is this: is Mars going to be a nature preserve? Or is Mars going to be our second home? Doesn't seem likely that we can have it both ways.

(Feel free to leave recommendations for sci-fi reads in the comments related to the terraforming of Mars, by the way. My personal favorite: the Hugo award-winning Spin [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spin_(novel)], by Robert Charles Wilson.)

Source: Mashable [http://mashable.com/2015/10/02/elon-musk-nuke-mars-two-suns/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link#Tmm9xSxcWqqX]

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crimson5pheonix

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The Mars Trilogy [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_trilogy] is my personal favorite Martian terraforming story, and iirc they do heat the poles to start thickening the atmosphere, but they don't use nuclear weapons to do so. Probably because radioactive fallout would spread over Mars especially quickly given the especially fine Martian sand along with extremely strong wind patterns.
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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Wouldn't the radiation be a problem for settling down the road? Or are we speaking in terms of tens of thousands of years? Making Mars habitable is a pretty important process we should start as soon as we understand how to; I'm not sure this is the way. I could very well be wrong though.

[sub]Yay, a half dozen quotes! c:[/sub]
 

P-89 Scorpion

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Redlin5 said:
Wouldn't the radiation be a problem for settling down the road? Or are we speaking in terms of tens of thousands of years? Making Mars habitable is a pretty important process we should start as soon as we understand how to; I'm not sure this is the way. I could very well be wrong though.
You know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are habitable now right? and have been for decades.

And people won't live at the poles they'll live closer to the equator so nuking the poles not a problem except in the cost rather than habitation risk.
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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P-89 Scorpion said:
You know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are habitable now right? and have been for decades.

And people won't live at the poles they'll live closer to the equator so nuking the poles not a problem except in the cost rather than habitation risk.
I know those cities are habitable, its just that the scale of these reactions to have a global effect is likely going to produce a lot of material. If the debris can be controlled into just being dumped at the poles, that's one thing. If it spreads across Mars during the process, there could be fragments strewn about in the dust for centuries.
 

Boris Goodenough

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Redlin5 said:
I know those cities are habitable, its just that the scale of these reactions to have a global effect is likely going to produce a lot of material. If the debris can be controlled into just being dumped at the poles, that's one thing. If it spreads across Mars during the process, there could be fragments strewn about in the dust for centuries.
Take into consideration that Fat Man and Little Boy were both technically dirty bombs (and they were just able to go BOOM) and left a lot of material behind, so clean tactical nukes would not be a huge problem.
 

crimson5pheonix

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Boris Goodenough said:
Redlin5 said:
I know those cities are habitable, its just that the scale of these reactions to have a global effect is likely going to produce a lot of material. If the debris can be controlled into just being dumped at the poles, that's one thing. If it spreads across Mars during the process, there could be fragments strewn about in the dust for centuries.
Take into consideration that Fat Man and Little Boy were both technically dirty bombs (and they were just able to go BOOM) and left a lot of material behind, so clean tactical nukes would not be a huge problem.
Remember that it would likely take dozens per pole to start the process.
 

Pyrian

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The radiation may very well be less than it is right now. Increasing the atmosphere will decrease the amount of solar and cosmic radiation reaching the surface.
 

Meximagician

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Interesting, but we still need to figure out how to jump start Mar's magnetosphere before we can create an atmosphere, or it will just be blown away like the first one was (well, it wasn't completely blown away, still). Not to mention the radiation, not much point in surviving meteor showers and taking off your helmet only to die a few hours later of radiation sickness.

Now I'm a planetary-sized-electromagnet man myself, if only for the ludicrous scale involved. Alternatively we could gravity tug Phobos about, make it's trip around Mars faster and closer, maybe add to the moon's iron content. Anybody got a moon-sized iron supplement? Or a moon-sized Dai-Gun?
 

hittite

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Meh. Maybe I'm just jaded when it comes to batshit insane space projects. Wake me up when people start seriously talking about stuff like the Orion drive or using gas giants as colony ships.
 

Kaymish

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RelativityMan said:
Interesting, but we still need to figure out how to jump start Mar's magnetosphere before we can create an atmosphere, or it will just be blown away like the first one was (well, it wasn't completely blown away, still). Not to mention the radiation, not much point in surviving meteor showers and taking off your helmet only to die a few hours later of radiation sickness.
Exactly this. there is no point in being able to generate a better atmosphere if it just gets stripped away by the solar wind starting the instant one begins the process
maybe if we could extinguish the sun? or am i over reaching
 

Alar

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Second home, please. Sadly it would take a very long time to do so realistically, involving self-replicating robots mining asteroids and shooting the materials to mars for MORE robots to construct into a giant set of super-conducting rings around the planet to strengthen the planet's magnetosphere artificially.

Of course, there's no reason we can't start warming it and seeding it with oxygen producing bacteria at the same time.
 

geizr

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Without much of an atmosphere to begin with, the heating will mostly be isolated to the poles, where you've dropped the nukes. And then it will quickly (quickly being very relative, here) cool again as it all radiates to space because there isn't sufficient atmosphere to trap the thermal energy.
 

xitel

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I think we all know the way to warm Mars is to cover the surface with moss and cockroaches. The moss will heat the planet, the cockroaches will eat the moss, and then everyone will die!
 

Ross Zevenhuizen

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Honestly, what is there on mars to preserve? Rocks? Ice? Tiny, unthinking microbes? There's little nature to speak of, and even if there was, its benefit to us is only sentimental. Preservationism for its own sake just seems a foolish way to go here (though certainly, we could probably stand to reach and study the place as it exists now before trying to terraform it).
 

Imre Csete

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Good, good. Let's nuke the Mars Colonies before they could declare war on Earth.
 

Kenjitsuka

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Imre Csete said:
Good, good. Let's nuke the Mars Colonies before they could declare war on Earth.
Lol, good one! To which I reply: EXOSQUAAAAD!!!!
Or will it turn out all Biker Mice From Mars-ey in the end? ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR7ktkOEeFw
 

Rastrelly

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Er... IIRC to maintain the atmosphere on Mars one must not only melt the ice caps, but also to heat up the core, 'cause otherwise the newly refueled atmosphere will be lost the same way previous one was.